Sunday, October 9, 2016

Review: This Night Sucks by Elizabeth J.M. Walker

Book: This Night Sucks
Author: Elizabeth J.M. Walker
Series: Standalone
Source: author (thank you, Elizabeth!)
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing
Pages: 100
Release: June 17th 2016

Lana is a high school senior enrolled in Vampire Education - a class to teach students about the very real presence of vampires in the world. Lana and her classmates don't really expect to meet up with any undead bloodsuckers. Vampires are a lot like other scary things that supposedly exist but you hope you'll never come across: nudist colonies, mad cow disease, and your parents' sex life. 

What is part of Lana's everyday reality is navigating through one last year of high school while desperately trying to be less nerdy. She still loves spaceships, fantasy novels, and cat stickers, but she also recently got her braces removed, grew boobs, and is working on the makeup thing. She never expected her crush-of-a-lifetime Pete to even notice her - let alone ask her out on a date. 

The date is going great until Pete's ex-girlfriend Katy shows up, all bloody and pissed off. Lana quickly realizes that Katy is not just her ordinary bitchy self - she has been turned into a vampire which, in turn, takes Lana and Pete's date from a hot and steamy make-out session to an unexpected vampire-hunting expedition.

**I received a free ecopy in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review in any way.**

In this world, vampires are real, though are a very uncommon phenomenon. It's extremely rare to come across one, but if you do, it's important that you know what to do to avoid become either their dinner, or worse, one of them, and thus schools offer classes called Vampire Education, a class where you learn how to protect yourself from vampires. It's also a class nobody takes seriously, except for the hardcore Hunters who have dedicated themselves to protecting their towns from a threat that most likely will never happen.

The first thing that struck me about Lana, the protagonist, was her voice. She was hilarious, with equal parts exasperation and sass. Lana was a bit of an outsider, as she didn't quite fit in anywhere in school. Having suddenly gone through a growth spurt and beginning to pay more attention to her physical looks, she began hiding her nerdiness and drifted away from her nerdy bunch of friends to gain a bit of perspective. Her love life was definitely the main catalyst to kickstart the plot, but afterwards, I just felt like we were more so being taken along to see how the events would unfold, rather than actually get more character development or depth from her. Apart from her sass, Lana's character felt flat to me.

The plot itself was very straightforward, and very easy to follow. I would have liked it to have been a little longer, just to give it more chance to add another layer of complexity to it. Everything I expected to happen one way or another did end up happening.

The idea of vampires living among us, but being so extremely rare that the chances are literally impossible, was definitely an interesting concept. It's halfway between people fully knowing they exist to people not knowing they exist. I mean, a lot of people take Vampire Education as a joke, so there must be a lot of denial that exists in the world about vampires. It would have been interesting to learn what the adult/global world thought of the vampire issue, whether they saw it as a real threat whereas the teenagers didn't due to their immaturity and rebellion nature.

I felt that the ending could have been further extended, just to get a better direction of what the aftermath of Lana's vampire encounter would be. Two characters in particular got the ending I expected, and I would have liked to know what became of their reputations.

Plus: the story is set in Canada! Ontario (I assume)! I definitely enjoyed the references to a few familiar cities, especially since I've been to them often. Honestly, there needs to be more stories about places other than just the US, but I'm probably being a bit biased. It's just nice to read places I know I can relate to.

All in all, I enjoyed the concept of the novel and the story, but it just didn't click perfectly with me. It could be that I just wasn't feeling the genre given the time of the year and the fact I've just emerged from a stressful few weeks. But I just felt like the novel should have been longer, just to be able to better flesh out the plot and its characters. It definitely has a good starting ground with its relatable characters, hilarious voice, and high-school life events, and I know the author will be able to continue to build upon those traits for a great story!

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